‘No to communism!’ – Polish parliament paused after protests erupt over imprisonment of 2 conservative MPs

By John Cody
3 Min Read

Politicians from the conservative opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) staged a protest against the arrest and incarceration of two of their colleagues during a session of Parliament, with the wives of the two arrested MPs appearing in the public gallery in support of the action.

PiS MPs chanted “Free our MPs,” which led Speaker Szymon Hołownia to suspend proceedings. During the interval in the session, the national anthem was sung and PiS MPs began chanting: “No to communism!”

The wives of Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik, the two MPs who have been detained for offenses President Andrzej Duda had pardoned them for, were joined in the public gallery of parliament by a senior aide to the president.

Barbara Kamińska and Roma Wąsik looked on as PiS MPs protested on the floor of parliament against their husbands’ incarceration.

The leader of the PiS parliamentary caucus, Mariusz Błaszczak, took center stage, demanding a parliamentary debate on the arrest of the two MPs and the government’s action of dismissing the national prosecutor. He also demanded that the two MPs be freed and enabled to fulfill their parliamentary mandates in line with the voters’ decisions during the October elections. He also thanked the wives of the two imprisoned politicians for coming to parliament.

This was the first session of parliament since the detention of the two MPs convicted for their initiation of an anti-corruption sting back in 2007. Following the court’s decision to uphold their prison sentences, Speaker Hołownia ruled that they are no longer MPs since they were automatically barred from holding public office after being convicted of a crime.

The two MPs were being hosted by President Andrzej Duda when detained by the police last week. They have been taken to separate prisons, where PiS supporters have been holding demonstrations outside. On Tuesday evening, the leader of Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński, held a speech at the demonstration in front of the prison in Radom, where Mariusz Kamiński is incarcerated.

Unlike the liberal opposition in the times of the last PiS government, the conservative opposition has restrained themselves from radical tactics such as occupying the speaker’s chair or the parliamentary chamber or having their supporters attempt to storm parliament. 

President Andrzej Duda last week decided to pardon the two MPs again and began the necessary process for that to take effect. He appealed to Justice Minister Adam Bodnar to suspend the serving of the sentences by the two MPs, but that request has so far been denied. The justice minister is insisting that the whole process, which involves the president receiving the opinions of the courts involved, should first be completed.

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